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How likely is a tourist tax in Oslo, and when could it be introduced?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
How likely is a tourist tax in Oslo, and when could it be introduced?
The Green Party has suggested a new tourist tax in Oslo, but how likely is this to happen? Pictured is the Oslo Opera House. Photo by Gunnar Ridderström on Unsplash

Oslo's Green Party has proposed introducing a tourist tax in the capital. However, several matters still need to be settled before it can be formally introduced.

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The Green Party (Miljøpartiet De Grønne) on Oslo City Council wants to bring in a tourist tax to upgrade and expand parks, swimming areas and streets, among other things.

"This will be good for the tourists who come, but also for the city's population. We believe such a tax is a move to make Oslo better," leader of the Oslo Green Party and city councillor for urban development Arild Hermstad said to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

The Green Party will vote for the possibility of a tourist tax to be investigated. If the tax is investigated, the party would want tourists to pay 10 to 50 kroner to stay in Oslo, then the party will decide whether a proposal will be made.

The party currently sits in the city government, the executive body of the Oslo City Council. The city government has major decision-making powers. The Greens are joined in the city government by the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet) and the Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti).

Therefore, the Green Party could decide to table a formal policy for the tourist tax. Arild Hermstad, responsible for urban development, holds a position on the city council comparable to a minister in government.

Still, the policy is at the very early stages, and there are several factors which are outside of the control of the Green Party and the city government.

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Firstly are local elections which will take place all over Norway on September 11th, 2023. The current city government could be ousted. Currently, the biggest party on the city council is the Conservative Party (Høyre). Additionally, recent polling shows the Conservatives have overtaken the Labour Party as the most popular party in Oslo.

This is important as the Conservative Party in Oslo is against the proposed tourist tax.

Another factor which will impact any potential tourist tax is national legislation. The current Norwegian government committed to introducing a tourist tax when it was formed in 2021, and a number of local authorities have expressed an interest in taking part in a pilot scheme to test its viability.

When agreeing on a budget for 2023, the government said that proposals for the tourist tax would be included in the 2024 fiscal plan.

This means that even if the tourist tax was given the green light by Oslo City Council, the levy against visitors to the Norwegian capital wouldn't be introduced until 2024 at the earliest. This is unless the city government got permission from the government to do so.

Tweaks may also need to be made to the proposal to make it work. The Green Party wants hotels and accommodation to collect the tax.

However, a committee set up by the government earlier this year recommended introducing a tourist tax for transport in and out of Norway. It did not suggest taxing accommodation as it would place a burden on the hotel industry.

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